Two weekends, two totally different aspects of our sport…

Over the last couple of weekends I’ve taken part in two events, both fantastic, both surely to be done again, but so different.

Ride London-Surrey 100

First was a repeat of last year’s Ride London-Surrey 100. Last year was a ballot place, but this year I wasn’t so lucky and had to take a charity place. I was riding with my (luckier) mate Russell. He was starting about an hour behind me, so I waited for him on the A12.

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While waiting for Russ, Jeff Ashton was waiting to pass something to his wife for the ride. We got chatting, and he took this great picture for us as we left.

We had a great ride out through London into Richmond Park and onwards into the Surrey Hills. The weather was perfect, so many more riders than last year meant the feed stop at Newlands Corner was mobbed. Best part of 30 minutes just to get water and find they only had bananas left for fuel (yeuck). We got caught at the bottom of Leith Hill due to the tragic heart attack of one of the entrants. Box Hill was extremely crowded, but first time up it for me, and a nice coffee stop at the top. The ride back into London was a bit tricky for me: I’d lowered the saddle by a few inches due to a suspicious crack in the frame where the seatpost goes in. This was now telling on me with hip and knee pain. Russ and I got separated around Kingston, and I missed where he was waiting for me, so ended up finishing without him and him catching me a few minutes later. Great weekend, better weather this time (but maybe less sense of achievement).

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Final turn before the Mall
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Nearly finished…

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‘Ard Rock Enduro

Back in the north, the following week was the ‘Ard Rock Enduro. I had a number of mates joining me for this, Iain and I dashed out for a quick ride down Doctor’s Gate, and one, a professor of Composite Engineering, arrived and pronounced my cross bike frame unsafe and told me to get a new one.

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How many caution signs?

We headed off to Swaledale for the ride and hit the hills. The format is extremely relaxed: we’re only timed on the downhill sections, so can ride together, chat and chill out on the ascents, before we arrive at the start of the downhill sections. Start when you like, and either race to the bottom, or in my case, hold on and hope. The descents are on private land through the old lead mine workings of hushes (gullies stripped of soil by releasing a dam above), flues (from smelting the ores) and spoil heaps. After the first section we did a quick shandy stop in the pub before pushing on to the next section. There was then a final long slow drag back to above the start before probably the most difficult of all sections, a steep grassy off-camber descent to Reeth, with jumps and rubble where you cross dry-stone walls.

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Clocking in at the start of the last section.

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At the end, I didn’t finish last, we had a few beers, and Santa Cruz had a stall which suggested a solution to my road bike issues…

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Looks like I’ll be doing both these again next year, though I have to say, the ‘Ard Rock must rate as the best bike event ever (see report in Enduro MTB)…!

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